Bill C-281: Addresses international human rights issues
On June 13, Philip Lawrence, federal member of parliament for Northumberland-Peterborough South, tabled a Private Member’s Bill, the International Human Rights Act, in the House of Commons.
If passed, Bill C-281 contains important provisions to help combat human rights abuses around the world. Currently, the federal government has the power to apply sanctions against officials abroad who violate human rights (Magnitsky Sanctions), but the government is not obligated to act. With this new legislation, Parliament would have the power to force the government to respond quickly to allegations of human rights abusers. This would allow opposition parties to hold the government to account for failures to act on human rights violations.
Bill C-281 also contains important provisions amending the Broadcasting Act to make it easier to revoke the authorization for television and radio programming in Canada that is influenced by a foreign national or entity that has committed acts recognized as genocide by the Senate or the House of Commons, or that is influenced by officials subject to sanctions under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law). This is an important step that Parliament must take now to prevent states engaging in human rights abuses from diffusing propaganda into Canada.
Finally, Bill C-281 amends the Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act, which became law under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s leadership, and was an important step in Canada’s commitment to stand against the severe damage and risks to civilians from cluster munitions. The new legislation would improve upon this, by restricting investments in companies that violate human rights or exploit developing nations.
The press release finishes with this comment: “Canadians must strongly support measures to advance human rights at home and abroad. The provisions outlined in this bill will allow Canada to uphold our commitment to human rights in a strong and meaningful way.”
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